Imagine, gentle readers, that you are a detective working homicide cases in the city or town where you live. And now imagine that you are investigating a murder in which all the evidence points to a single suspect. Several witnesses tell you they saw what happened, and each of them identifies the same person. You obtain an arrest warrant for the man, book him into jail, and prepare to bring him before the bar of justice.
But now imagine that your case against this man begins to unravel, not because he is innocent of the crime, but rather because your witnesses either recant their inculpating accounts or suddenly cannot be located.
Your suspect, you see, is a gang member, and his associates let it be known in the neighborhood that anyone who testifies against the man will be made to regret it. This message is transmitted through intimidating visits, vandalism, even physical assaults. The intimidation campaign is so effective that none of your witnesses can be counted on to provide the testimony required to hold your suspect to account for the murder. After consultation with the prosecutor assigned to your case, you reach the inescapable conclusion: the charges must be dismissed for lack of evidence. Your suspect goes free, perhaps to kill again.
This is not a farfetched scenario. Every detective has known the experience of seeing someone on the street he is certain has committed a crime but who escaped punishment because witnesses were dissuaded from testifying. There are few things more galling to a cop, but this is the way the world often works.
But in some cases there is a consolation prize, a chance to remove the suspected criminal from the society of his law-abiding neighbors.
In our hypothetical scenario, our suspect is an illegal alien, one who even has been previously deported only to slither back into our midst. With this information in mind, you contact an agent from the Department of Homeland Security, who confirms that the man is indeed eligible for deportation to his home country. The federal agents collect the man and bundle him off. Not the outcome we would have preferred, perhaps, but better to see the man expelled from the country than remain among us as a human ticking bomb. Good riddance, we say.
But not if we are working in Connecticut, where on Wednesday Gov. Daniel Malloy issued what he called “Guidance to Law Enforcement and School Districts Regarding Immigration Matters.”
It’s interesting to note that Gov. Malloy grouped police officers and school districts into the same directive, as though the issues concerning both are somehow similar. This strikes me as a tactical decision intended to insulate the directive against criticism. “But, Dunphy,” the open-borders types will say, “do you want ICE agents rampaging through the schools?”
No, I don’t. I want them identifying and removing illegal aliens with serious criminal records, including those, like our hypothetical killer described above, who may not have been convicted of a crime but are nonetheless believed to be guilty of one.
Gov. Malloy’s directive contains the following instructions:
Local law enforcement should not take action that is solely to enforce federal immigration law. The federal government cannot mandate states to investigate and enforce actions that have no nexus to the enforcement of Connecticut law or local ordinances.
ICE detainer requests are requests [emphasis in the original], they are not warrants or orders and this should only be honored as set forth in Connecticut law, unless accompanied by a judicial warrant.
Law enforcement should not provide access to individuals who are in law enforcement custody for purposes of questioning by ICE and any such request, as noted above, should be referred up the chain of command for evaluation.
If an ICE agent approaches a school asking for student information or for access to a student, that agent should be referred to the Superintendent’s Office or to the office of an appropriate administrator designated by the Superintendent.
Note how in the third of the above points, officers are instructed to respond to any requests by ICE by referring them “up the chain of command.” In discussing this it is helpful to know that within any police department, the farther one goes up the chain of command the more removed he becomes from the realities of police work and the more intimately he becomes involved in politics. To the detective or street cop, the question of seeking the deportation of a criminal poses no dilemma at all. “Let’s do it,” he says. But above him is a sergeant who hopes to be a lieutenant, a lieutenant who hopes to be a captain, a captain who hopes to be a deputy chief, and a chief who hopes to remain in good graces with his political patrons. And in nearly any city you can name, those political patrons are sympathetic to the cause of illegal aliens, including those previously deported, and even those suspected or convicted of serious crimes.
It appears that Gov. Malloy would not endorse the deportation of our hypothetical killer, and that he would support disciplining any police officer who sought to bring it about.
No police officer should be placed in the position of having to preserve his career by abiding by Gov. Malloy’s directive at the expense of keeping his community safe by aiding in the deportation of criminal illegal aliens.
Surely a showdown looms. As Gov. Malloy says above, ICE detainer requests are just that, requests. And though it wasn’t all that long ago that such requests were routinely honored by police officers everywhere, those days have passed. The Trump administration should find a way, either through legislative or judicial action, to have ICE detainers carry the force of a warrant, and the sooner the better.